How to Wear Eye Makeup Underneath Glasses, According to Experts

And why you should avoid a smokey eye.

masha sedgewick
(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller)

Glasses and I are inevitable. I know that one day, I'll see a pair of corrective lenses through a crowded bar and think, Finally. There you are. I've been waiting for you forever. It's only a matter of time. Both my parents have, to be blunt, terrible vision. Since I was a little kid I would put on their glasses, marvel at how smart I suddenly looked, and wear them until I got dizzy and nauseous. I'm actually very excited to one day wear glasses. It means no one will be able to borrow my prescription sunglasses and I'll look chic always.

But here's what I'm not excited about: What in the world will wearing glasses mean for my eye makeup routine? Some of my lens-donning friends have told me how frustrating it is to do a full eye look, only to have it look muted as soon as they put on their glasses. Lately, I've been using blue-light glasses to protect myself from the 3 p.m. headache that comes from staring at a computer screen all day, so I like to think that I can sympathize. To get answers for my friends and my future self (and maybe you!), I turned to Pablo Rodriguez, makeup artist and Director of Artistry at Illamasqua. Below, find out how you can still rock an eye look and wear your glasses.

Pick The Right Frames for Your Look

A great overall style tip: The shape of your glasses shouldn't clash with your style. "When deciding on eye makeup options if you wear glasses, it’s very key to take in consideration the style of frames you are wearing," says Rodriguez. "The eye makeup look should go with the overall look, including hair, lip color and outfit you are wearing."

This means a cool '60s-inspired cat eye might match best with retro glasses than with Harry Potter-esque frames. Plus, depending on the style of glasses you opt for, more or less of your eye will be visible, which will alter your eye look.

Define Your Eyes With Your Makeup

Since glasses can obscure your eyes, it's important to bring back some definition. Daoud recommends eyeliner-focused looks and says, "Keep the eyeshadow subtle and focus on the eyeliner instead. Adding a colored liner in your waterline makes your eyes pop and add a smoking look to your eyeliner adds definition to your eyes.

For Rodriguez, the best way to do this is to cut back on the number of products you use: "Less is definitely more," he says. "Don’t use too many different eyeshadow colors, keep lashes clean and defined, apply eyeliner outside the lash line, not in the rim of the eye." Swap out a volumizing mascara for a lengthening one, and focus on accentuating areas like the crease and lash line to make your natural look just a bit stronger.

If another concern you have is your mascara getting on your lenses, Daoud has a trick for that. "I recommend using an eyelash curler, they not only lift your lashes and open your eyes, but also prevent your lashes from hitting your lenses, and that's key."

Choose Lighter Eye Makeup Shades

If your go-to look is a dark smoky eye, it might be time to try something different. "Glasses tend to create shadows in the eye area," Rodriguez points out. "So you don’t want to make the eyes look darker." 

This doesn't mean you can only use colors that match your skin tone. Rather than choosing a navy blue, try a pale blue instead. For more neutral tones, pastels, pinks, and shimmers all work well to brighten the eyes while still giving you some drama under those lenses.

Wearing glasses doesn't mean you can't go wild with eyeshadow! Also, because this is makeup, there are really no hard and fast rules. Personally, I am excited to blind people with my glittery lids from underneath my lenses any day now.

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(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Tatjana Freund

Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends. She's a fan of vodka tonics and creepy Wikipedia pages.